Find the Perfect Subscription Box Shipping Partner

By Don Hermansen, May 2, 2024

Woman opening a subscription box received from OSM

Here’s great news for subscription e-commerce companies: the market is expected to reach $1.5 trillion billion by 2025.1 However, taking advantage of the boom in subscription shopping requires staying efficient as you scale while keeping up with consumer expectations. Major players such as Amazon, followed by popular shipping subscription brands such as HelloFresh, Chewy and others, have set a high bar for fast, reliable, low-cost delivery.  

The role shipping partners play is essential to subscription success. The right partner can help subscription shipping businesses of all sizes keep customers happy and committed while also managing business costs. Before bringing on a new shipping partner, consider these factors:  

Packaging Consultation  

Your packaging choices can have a dramatic impact on the speed of your delivery—and the integrity of the product when it shows up at the customer’s door. For example, certain materials or large packages can increase rates and contribute to packaging waste. Customers want their product well-packed, but may be concerned about the environmental impact and trying to minimize waste. Shipping partners like OSM Worldwide know the best shipping package options to ensure the package is safe, lightweight and sized appropriately for the best shipping results. Look for a subscription box shipping partner that works with your business to right-size packaging for both customer satisfaction and business efficiency.  

Reliable Delivery Timeframes  

A reliable, predictable delivery window is the heart of subscription box success. Customers always expect hassle-free, fast delivery. If they’re relying on a subscription for recurring daily needs or the convenience it offers, that expectation grows. In fact, according to a recent study, 54% of customers responded they might cancel their subscription box shipping service if the items didn’t arrive on time.2 Ask potential shipping partners about their delivery time frames and how they help ensure packages arrive in this window. Look into label production, staged delivery and multiple same-day pick ups, as well.  

Carrier Hub Locations

Location, location, location—it’s a truism that also applies to subscription shipping. Always consider your shipping partner’s carrier hub locations in relation to its subscription box fulfillment or distribution centers. Carrier hubs are critical to getting boxes to customers fast; longer distances between pickup locations ultimately lead to longer delivery times and potentially higher costs. For example, OSM Worldwide has carrier hubs conveniently and strategically located in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas and York, Pa. to ensure timely domestic package delivery.  

Smart Tracking and Transfer  

Choosing a shipping carrier is much like choosing a new business partner. There should be a shared commitment to success using business intelligence tools and data to help improve operations. OSM’s proprietary OSMART technology suite for parcel management has been specifically optimized to enhance package processing. It offers tracking, reporting and other account support features to give total insight into where packages are in their journey—an essential advantage for subscription business owners.  

Responsive Customer Support  

How large is your shipper’s customer support team? Do they have dedicated account representatives? Does support hinge on how long you’ve been a customer? Ask these critical questions when you search for a shipping partner. OSM stands out from larger shipping carriers with its responsive customer service, providing account support for problem-solving and ongoing operational improvements. Customers always work with the same account and service contacts, creating long-lasting relationships that ultimately lead to more customized shipping solutions and account flexibility. This level of service is offered to everyone, including new customers.

Volume and Service Flexibility  

The subscription-based business model is hardly immune to fluctuations in volume and sales. Like other businesses, sales are affected by seasons, economic cycles and of course, churn—the rate of attrition or cancellation. When considering a shipping partner, be sure to choose one that offers flexibility and is willing to adjust as needed. Look for a company that takes a consultative approach, helping you manage all the peaks and valleys to ensure lower total operating costs over time.  

Multi-Carrier Shipping Strategy  

When considering shipping choices, your best route may simply be to add a shipper to your suite of carriers. Relying on a single carrier offers the benefit of simplicity, but it comes with greater risk. For example, if limited to one set of rates, businesses can lose the ability to control costs or negotiate for specific packages and routes. Additionally, if your single carrier experiences any interruption in service (as often happened during the pandemic), your customers’ experience—and ultimately, your sales—could be compromised. Adding additional carriers diversifies your strategy and ensures your shipping remains reliable and efficient.  

Thinking about making a switch or enhancing your current approach? Contact OSM to learn how we can support and help grow your subscription service with expertise at every step of the shipping process. 

About the Author 

Director of Enterprise Sales, Don Hermansen, joined OSM Worldwide in 2006. With a talent for cultivating strong relationships and developing custom solutions, Don has played a pivotal role in delivering successful outcomes for clients.

1 Robinson, Carol. “Subscription Service Model: How to Build a Profitable Business” March 9, 2024. Forbes.

2 Lindner, Jannik. “Must-Know Subscription Box Statistics [Latest Report]” Dec. 16, 2023.